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Islanders end road trip with a stop in Dallas

by John Kreiser /

ISLANDERS (7-11-5) at STARS (15-9-1)


LAST 10: New York 3-5-2; Dallas 4-5-1

Season Series: The teams are meeting for the first time this season; they'll face each other again in less than two weeks at the Nassau Coliseum. They haven't seen each other since the first Saturday of the 2010-11 season, when the Stars won 5-4 in a shootout on Long Island.

Big Story: The Stars appear to have regained their traction after a mid-November slump and are finding ways to win despite losing several key players, including starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen, to injuries. The Islanders are still last in the East but are starting to show some life -- they are 2-0-1 as they enter the finale of a four-game road trip.

Team Scope:

Islanders: L ack of scoring has been a major disappointment on the Island so far this season -- New York is last in the NHL with just 47 goals in 23 games -- but the offense generated four goals and a boatload of chances in Friday night's 5-4 shootout loss at Chicago. The Islanders trailed 3-2 after two periods but outshot the Hawks 23-7 in the third period and 3-0 in OT.

"I thought we played one of the better games of the year," coach Jack Capuano said. "That's a good hockey team. After the second period, all of a sudden, we got 12-13 quick shots on net and we were right back in it. Our guys worked hard."

Stars: Dallas enters the weekend on top of the Pacific Division thanks to a complete team effort. They've won two in a row and 15 games overall thanks to offensive balance, solid defense and good goaltending. All three were on view Thursday when the Stars rallied for two late goals to beat Ottawa 3-2. Bottom-six forwards Radek Dvorak and Eric Nystrom had the tying and winning goals.

"There's no special formula to what we're doing," said Nystrom, whose nine goals are more than double his output with Minnesota last season. "We're just working hard, getting in on the forecheck, shooting the puck and getting to spots where we can get shots off. It's not like we're doing anything fancy, we're just grinding away and it's been working."

Who's Hot: Matt Moulson had a goal and an assist on Friday and leads the Isles with nine goals. … Dallas checking forward Radek Dvorak's has six points (three goals, three assists) in the last six games. Nystrom is 4-2-6 in the same span.

Injury Report: The Islanders are without goaltender Evgeni Nabokov (groin), defenseman Mark Eaton (sprained knee) and forward Jay Pandolfo (broken foot). Defenseman Andrew MacDonald sat out Friday's game with a leg injury. … Dallas is without Lehtonen (groin), defensemen Alex Goligoski (broken thumb) and Trevor Daley (back) and forwards Brenden Morrow (back) and Adam Burish (broken hand)

Stat Pack: Dallas has an 8-1-1 record in one-goal games; the Stars' .850 percentage leads the NHL. … The Stars have scored 17 goals during a four-game winning streak against the Isles, who haven't beaten the Stars since a 3-0 victory at Dallas on Nov. 15, 2006.

Puck Drop: Nystrom, the son of Isles' legend Bob Nystrom, has given the Stars a major offensive boost after being acquired on waivers at the start of the season. He has fit in perfectly on a line with Dvorak and Vernon Fiddler, giving the Stars a third line that can also score.

"I just think you see some maturity now with him, and getting around the net, he has some more poise," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. "He still works as hard as he ever did and he's putting them in."

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